Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Readability, content, and quality of COVID-19 patient education materials from academic medical centers in the United States.

Kruse J, Toledo P, Belton TB, Testani EJ, Evans CT, Grobman WA, Miller ES, Lange EMS. Readability, content, and quality of COVID-19 patient education materials from academic medical centers in the United States. American journal of infection control. 2021 Jun 1; 49(6):690-693.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 has spread rapidly resulted in a global pandemic and public health crisis. The internet is a frequently used resource for providing patient education materials (PEMs). The aim of this study was to evaluate the readability, content, and quality of web-based PEMs on COVID-19 from US academic medical centers. METHODS: The names of US medical schools were obtained from the Association of American Medical Colleges website (n? = 145). Institutional, hospital, and heath encyclopedia websites associated with each schools' medical center were identified using Google. Readability of COVID-19 PEMs was calculated using three validated indices: (1) Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level, (2) Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, and (3) Gunning Frequency of Gobbledygook. Content was evaluated using a scoring matrix based on materials available on the Center for Disease Control website. The Patient Education Material Assessment Tool for Print (PEMAT-P) was used to assess usability and actionability. RESULTS: A total of 141 (97%) PEMs met inclusion criteria and were analyzed for readability, content, and quality. The mean readability was above the recommended sixth grade reading level (P < .001). Content was variable across PEMs. The PEMAT-P scores reflected good understandability with a median score of 83% (IQR 75%-87%), while actionability was poor with a median score of 41% (IQR 40%-60%). CONCLUSIONS: Despite availability of web-based PEMs for COVID-19, the readability was significantly higher than the National Institute of Health and US Department of Health and Human Services recommended sixth grade reading level and actionability of PEMs was low. It is critical to provide readable PEMs on COVID-19 to effectively disseminate accurate information and facilitate patients' understanding of the virus, how it spreads, and how to protect themselves.

Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.